Monthly Archives: December 2011

Leaf Lace Triange Shawl

Another finished project which had been on the needles rather a long time.

I started this shawl in May 2010 at Chris Williams’s lace knitting class at Fleet Library. It languished for a while after the small leaves section while I tried to work out how I wanted the rest of the shawl to go.

It halted again for a while towards the end of the beaded leaves while I thought about how to finish it off.

In the end I went for a simple sideways knitted garter stitch edging so that it wouldn’t detract from the rest of the shawl.

I used 3mm needles and 2ply machine knitting soft cotton from Uppingham Yarns. The beads are CC180F – TOHO BEADS 3MM TRANSPARENT RAINBOW FROSTED OLIVINE from E-beads, and I used about 30g altogether. The beads are added using a crochet hook so you add them as you go rather than having to thread them all on the yarn before you start. I managed to lose my 1mm crochet hook while waiting for a dancing class while I was working on this shawl. It was a bit irritating as this hook was part of a set I have had for ages, but luckily I managed to find a replacement fairly quickly which is not a bad fit for the set too.

I need to create more occaisions to wear shawls now πŸ™‚

Devon Fibre Weekend 2011

On the first weekend in November I picked up Joanne and we trundled down to Devon for a very fun (if somewhat muddy) fibre-y weekend. This year’s weekend was run by Emma rather than Terri and was in a different location to last year, and didn’t include any outings.

On our way down we popped into John Arbon‘s shop in Lynton. John and Juliet were very kind and put up with us despite being in the middle of packing for a big show up in London. Juliet had also measured out some fibre for me before we arrived. I bought 1kg of their organic merino which I plan to dye and spin for a jumper or cardigan soon:

And I couldn’t resist 500g of 75% organic merino, 25% silk.

This is lovely soft stuff.I plan to dye it as well but I am not sure whether to do it in one go, or do several smaller things.

The main reason for going to the shop though was to pick up some more alpaca / merino fibre in Cappuccino to add to the stuff I bought last year, and hopefully give me enough for a cardigan. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this as I have started spinning it already πŸ™‚

After the shopping we trundled up to the farm to meet everyone. It was lovely to see some familiar faces and meet some new people too.

As well as a healthy amount of spinning, knitting, chatting and cake eating over the weekend we also did some dyeing under the excellent tutelage of Bex, and some people did some felting too.

I dyed 100g of superwash Bluefaced Leicester fibre in a mixture of blues with a bit of purple:

I plan to spin this probably as a 3ply and then knit socks.

And some rather orange silk fibre:

I used red, orange, and yellow dye on this one and was expecting there to be a bit more red. It has come out very orange πŸ™‚ I’m not quite sure what I am going to do with it, but I’m sure I shall think of something πŸ™‚ I haven’t spun much 100% silk yet either, so I am looking forward to that.

Bex also brought along some of her shop stock so I treated myself to a couple of braids of fibre. They are both 150g, 70% superwash merino, 30% nylon:


I think these are both destined for socks. Goodness I do seem to be going through a sock phase. I think it could be now that we are into wintery weather, and that my sock drawer is getting a bit depleted. It would work better if I actually got round to knitting the socks though, not just buying yarn and fibre πŸ™‚

All too soon Monday morning came around and we packed everything back into the car and said goodbye. One advantage of leaving on Monday rather than Sunday was that the drive home wasn’t too busy and was all in daylight.

Roll on next year! (I might even try to use up some of the stuff I have bought before then!)


Ally Pally 2011

I am making good inroads into the catching up and have now got to October!

Mummy came down to stay for a few days and we had a trip over to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. We went for only one day this year, which was a bit of a push to see everything. I would have liked more time to see the exhibition, and we were very tired at the end. Perhaps two days next year? It is always hard to know in advance how much time will be needed to see everything, it depends so much on who has brought what.

It was a lovely outing as always, great to catch up with people and to see what is new.

Unsurprisingly I came home with a few goodies:

A ball of Jawoll Magic from Lang Yarns:

This is 4ply weight 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. It is only a singles so I am not sure how well it will stand up to wear. I am planning to make some socks with this so we shall see.

Jawoll Magic DΓ©gradΓ©, another Lang yarn, the same weight and blend as the last, and also a singles.

Admiral by Schoppel Wolle, also the same weight and blend as the other two, although this one is a plied yarn.

I am clearly going through a sock yarn phase πŸ™‚

As well as the lovely yarn I found a few other useful bits and pieces:

Some beautiful buttons from Textile Garden:

Some fun buttons (I think these will be destined for something for my niece who has dual British/US nationality):

And stitch markers from Bev at Knitting 4 Fun:

A beautiful shawl pin from Art Yarn:

Some more pins to use for blocking (I never seem to have enough):

And a daylight bulb which I have already installed in the light fitting above my seat on the settee:

I also bought a stick pin for Mummy for her Christmas present, she chose it so she knows it is something she will like πŸ™‚ but I had wrapped it up and sent it on its way before I remembered to photograph it.

A good day out, and great to catch up with everyone.

Cashmere concertina cowl

I started this cowl back in October 2010, and it has taken me more than a year to finish despite being a very simple pattern!

It has been my dedicated bottom of the bag knitting that only gets worked on when I am out and about and haven’t brought any other knitting, which explains why it took quite so long.

I’m glad I have finished now and can be wearing it, it is lovely and snuggly and warm, just in time too as the weather has been getting colder.

The yarn is DK weight cashmere from Devon Fine Fibres – it was rather fun to be working on something where I had actually met the animals that produced the fibre! I used 4mm needles and a very simple combination of stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch and 3×3 rib.

A Christmas hat for Jenny

I am on a roll with this finishing things! Well at least with finishing small things πŸ™‚

I had some grey yarn left over from when I knitted my niece Jenny a blanket last Christmas, and though that it would be nice to have make her a hat for this Christmas.

The pattern is Limpetiole by Woolly Wormhead. It was a very enjoyable pattern to knit.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK, 100% superwash merino wool, and I used 3.75mm needles. I made the smallest size, and it only took one ball of yarn.

It is now all wrapped up and put in the pile of presents. Hopefully she is still young enough that she is not going to see it here before Christmas πŸ™‚ (she is only one).

A knitted breast

Back in October I knitted a rather unconventionally coloured breast for my friend Meg to use when she teaches antenatal groups about breast feeding.

She very kindly took its photo as I had managed to post it to her before I remembered to photograph it.

I used 4ply weight acrylic machine knitting yarn, and 3.25mm needles. The pattern I used is here, but I made it in the round so I didn’t have to do a seam, and also did a provisional cast on so that I could easily pick the stitches up to work the back. I think if I made another one I would alter the rate of decreases on the back as the fabric did pucker a bit, but overall it was good fun and will hopefully be useful.

Christmas stocking for Oliver

Oliver’s mum asked me last year if I would make him a Christmas stocking, but unfortunately things were looking a bit frantic at the end of last year. This year however I have got my act together, and luckily Oliver is still young enough that hopefully he might not have noticed the absence of the stocking last year.

Here is the first side of his stocking:

And here the second:

The yarn used was Hobbycraft double knitting acrylic for the white, and Hayfield Bonus DK acrylic for the other colours. I found the Hobbycraft yarn a bit thin and am not sure I would use it again, but the Hayfield seemed more robust. I used 3mm needles even though this is a DK weight yarn so that the stocking would be firm enough not to stretch too much, and so that presents wouldn’t poke through. I also wove in the colour not in use every other stitch so there would not be long floats on the inside to get caught on little fingers or on the corners of presents.

It is now winging its way to its new owner and hopefully will reach there in time for Father Christmas to do his job πŸ™‚

North Ronaldsay spinning

I have been spinning some North Ronaldsay fibre I bought a while ago from Scottish Fibres. I thought a bit of variety would be fun, so this is a carded preparation (most of the other fibre I have spun recently is combed) and I spun it up a lot thicker than I normally do.

It has come out about a chunky weight, though is a bit variable, I have 185g, 238.5m of the brown, and 195g, 184m of the white. I am planning to dye the white, though I’m not quite sure what colour yet, possibly red? I am planning to make a double layer hat from Spin Off magazine, though I will have to tinker with the pattern a bit as I think my yarn is a bit thicker than the pattern is expecting.

It has been fun to try different spinning though I did find the carded preparation a bit difficult to get an even yarn from. I think a bit more practise is probably required πŸ™‚ The North Ronaldsay is surprisingly soft, although interestingly I think the brown is slightly softer than the white, and the white has more kemp (brittle hairs that I think wont take the dye, and tend to shed). I am interested to see how this will dye up, and am looking forward to knitting with it, and seeing whether that will even out the lumpy bits.

Knit Nation 2011

Back in the middle of a rather wet July I spent a very enjoyable three days up at Imperial College in London for Knit Nation. I had booked a hectic schedule of classes which were all great fun.

On Friday I had an all day class with Anne Hanson on Sweater Fitness. This included taking a full set of body measurements and then looking at how to adapt existing patterns to our measurements. All useful stuff. I have been quite successful in designing garments from scratch using my own measurements, but less successful in adapting already existing patterns, so there were a lot of useful tips to be gleaned. The penny really dropped when we were looking closely at the schematics of our chosen patterns, and I realised that a lot of my problem was not just that I usually need a different size for my chest than for my tummy / hips (this is something I have been aware of for some time and so am used to compensating for), but that my shoulder measurement matches up with a completely different size. I am shaped rather like a pyramid πŸ™‚ So many garments hang from the shoulder line and if you don’t get that right the whole garment looks badly fitting. This was amply demonstrated by the T-shirt I was wearing to class. In order to get a size which was comfortable around my cake-storage areas the shoulders of the T-shirt extend past my own shoulders by a good couple of centimetres and droop in a not terribly flattering manner.

We covered lots of useful tips on how to transition from one size to another at strategic points in an existing pattern. I shall definitely be putting this information into action, and taking a very hard look at the schematics of the future patterns I knit. She also had some very interesting things to say about different ways to reduce the stitches from the bust line to the shoulders, whether you opt to decrease in the armhole area or do darts which go up to the centre of each shoulder. I look forward to doing some experimenting with this to see which works well for my shape.

On Saturday morning I went to a class on Vintage Fit and Finishing with Susan Crawford. It was very interesting to learn how fashions in ease and fit have changed over time. Very valuable information when knitting a vintage pattern. I am not sure I will ever go for the full vintage re-creation garments which seem to be popular, but I can certainly see me using some aspects of vintage patterns as inspiration.

On Saturday afternoon it was The Many Faces of Cashmere with Clara Parkes. Fantastic stuff! She manages to be hilarious and extremely informative and interesting all at the same time, and three hours of cashmere can never be a bad thing πŸ™‚ We had lots of little samples of fibre and yarn to feel and knit with. It is constantly amazing how many different yarns you can make from the same fibre.

Here are all my little samples before washing (click to make huge):

Top row L to R:

  • Schulana Cashmere Moda, 100% cashmere, caged construction (so fibre is blown through a type of thin Icord-type tube), 4mm needles.
  • Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Swiss Mountain cashmere / silk lace, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, 3.25mm needles.
  • Habu Cashmere Lace, 100% cashmere, 3.25mm needles.
  • Colourmart 100% cashmere, Cable (or crepe) construction, 6mm needles.

Middle row L to R:

  • Classic Elite Posh, 30% cashmere, 70% silk, S on S cable construction, 5mm needles
  • Laines Du Nord Royal Cashmere, 100% cashmere, knitted tube construction, 4mm needles.
  • The bottom of the sample is Filatura Di Crosa Superior, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, brushed, and I used 3.25mm needles. For the top of the sample I used the same needles and as well as the Superior I added Filatura Di Crosa Nirvana, 100% merino, so the two yarns were knitted together.
  • KFI Textured Cashmere, 100% cashmere, 4mm needles.

Bottom Row L to R:

  • Hemp for Knitting Cashmere Canapa, 10% hemp, 60% cotton, 30% cashmere, 3.75mm needles.
  • Carded cashmere fibre.
  • Combed Mongolian cashmere fibre.
  • Falkland wool fibre.
  • The yellow slightly above is silk fibre.
  • The white below is fake cashmere fibre, I think this is nylon.

Here are the knitted samples after having a wash:

All of the samples fluffed up a bit on washing. Cashmere is often oiled to stop it hairing up the machines when it is processed so you don’t get the full effect until you have given your knitting a wash.

I loved the opportunity to sample all the different blends of cashmere, and different ways of spinning. There are some very inventive manufacturers out there. I am still a bit afraid of spinning cashmere because of the short staple, which is better suited to long draw, which I am not very good at. I am hoping to do some practising soon though so I can overcome that.

After Saturday’s classes I went to see the film about Bohus knitting, not a subject I knew much about before, although I love their patterns and have the kit for the Wild Apple around here somewhere.

Sunday morning was Photographing Your Fibre with Franklin Habit. Again lots of interesting and useful information. Some of it about how to set up your scene for your photography, and some on how to actuallly use the camera. I shall be spending some time with my camera manual soon! I only have a little point and shoot, but even that I don’t really use to its full potential.

As is often the way with these events there was a very tempting market place. I came home with two books:

Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague, and Going Straight by Woolly Wormhead. I am looking forward to finding some time over Christmas to read both of these properly.

I also found a fabulous skein of yarn:

This is merinoΒ  / nylon / stellina, 100g,Β  400m, 4ply weight in colour Mermaid from Krafty Koala. It was green and purple and sparkly, so I could hardly be expected to resist.

I had a great time and it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with lots of fun knitting people. I was a bit tired by the end and managed to get completely drenched on the way home – you could literally wring the water out of my trousers from the knee down where my umbrella didn’t cover them.

I think there isn’t going to be a Knit Nation next summer because of the Olympics, I am looking forward to one in 2013!



Just when I was nearly caught up things became busy again. They are calming down a bit now, so I shall plod on with the catching up, like the tortoise I shall get there in the end πŸ™‚

At the beginning of June we had a lovely week’s holiday up in Orkney. It was the first time we had been, and it was lovely. Beautiful landscape, and interesting things to visit, and we were very lucky with the weather. The light up there is really beautiful, though it takes a bit of getting used to that in June it only gets dark for a couple of hours a night. We had to hang a blanket up over our window in order to sleep. I’m not sure I would fancy it in the winter though. I think it would get a bit depressing with only a few hours of light each day.

We stayed in a cottage about a mile outside Kirkwall, the capital, and this was the view from Scapa Bay just a short walk from the cottage:

The light seemed to make the seaweed glow.

We visited a lot of the typical tourist things. All the neolithic remains are very impressive, and well worth visiting if you are in the area. Also the advantage of going before the school holidays was that most things weren’t too crowded.

The air up there is very clean, and the most amazing lichens grow. These were on a grave stone at the Brough of Birsay:

The landscape was not as barren as I had been expecting. I think I had been picturing something more windswept and moor-like, but actually most of the mainland is gently rolling, and very green. Also there are trees, they are just not very tall. This is the Ring of Brodgar, one of the stone circles:

We spent most of the time on the Mainland, but on one day we had a trip out to Rousay, one of the closer islands. We had a moment of excitement on the way there, when we realised that we would have to reverse the hire car on to the ferry. The ferry is quite little and only takes about 9 cars, though it had fewer when we went over because a lorry carrying what looked like road surfacing stuff was taking the space of about 6 cars. Luckily the hire car was quite titchy, and the ferry staff were very friendly and experienced. Since there is only one hire car service at the airport, and the vast majority of their cars are the same, the ferry staff were well practised at the exact instructions they needed to give in order to get the desired outcome. I also got the impression that if one had had a total melt-down about it, they would have driven the car on for you. At least we had been driving the car around for 4 days at that point so were also quite familiar with it. The Antipodean lady we were talking to in the queue had literally just arrived by plane and picked up a car and driven straight to the ferry.

There were several cairns on Rousay, and a very impressive broch and tomb at Mid Howe. This is the broch, to give you an idea of the scale, the two little blobs at the bottom left are people:

And here is the tomb, protected by a building which has been built round it:

Unfortunately it is hard to tell the scale, but it is really massive. The walls are seriously thick, at least a couple of metres, and the whole tomb is enormous. Very impressive, especially considering how long ago it was built.

After visiting Mid Howe we drove round the rest of the island, and were delighted to find a bay where we could watch seals swimming around, really close to the shore. They are very graceful in the water, and surprisingly ungraceful out of it.

Here are some flopping around and sunning themselves on a shelf of rock near the shore:

And here are a couple playing in the water:

It was wonderful to watch them.

On our last full day we went into Kirkwall and had a look around the Orkney Museum. They had quite a bit of knitting, and a couple of spinning wheels on display, including these lovely stockings:

I found a couple of nice fibre-y things on our travels to bring back and remind me of a lovely holiday. We didn’t manage to get up to North Ronaldsay this holiday, but hopefully might make it up there to see the sheep another time. I got these both from The Woolshed, who I don’t seem to be able to link to at the moment.

First 100g of hand dyed North Ronaldsay fibre:

I haven’t decided on the best way to spin this yet, but I love all the colours.

And also some DK weight North Ronaldsay yarn in natural white, and natural dark brown:

I am thinking about making a two-coloured hat with these though I haven’t totally made up my mind yet.